From VR porn to Kidcoin: inside the cryptocurrency trade fair



Crypto Investor Show highlights variety in sector as interest surges on the back of bitcoin






Crypto Investor Show






The show, held at a venue near the Houses of Parliament, aimed to help the general public invest.
Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

“If you reach out your hand, you can touch her and direct her,” the female assistant says as she guides Steve, a potential investor, through the bold new world of the cryptocurrency-backed virtual reality adult entertainment industry.

The assistant asks Steve to wear a VR headset, sit comfortably and hold a remote control in each hand. Steve does as he is instructed and extends his left arm towards the naked lap dancer in front of him in the virtual seedy bar.

As he holds out his arm, a crowd of would-be investors gather round the screen in the company’s booth at the Crypto Investor Show in central London. Me.Mento and its porn brand VRXcity have come to the capital to find investors for what they claim will be the world’s first cryptocurrency-funded VR porn.

The assistant adds: “This is the future of pornography.” And, at least in this conference centre booth, it is the future of cryptocurrency, the investment craze that has propelled bitcoin into the headlines.

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The company told potential investors at the show in the Queen Elizabeth II Centre near the Houses of Parliament that there were less than 10 days left to pre-register for its redBUX crypto token before the initial coin offering (ICO).

An ICO is how a new cryptocurrency – a virtual currency that uses cryptography for security and is not issued by any central bank – is launched. Investors subscribe, usually paying in bitcoin, receive the new currency and then start spending it, hoping that as it circulates, it increases in value. More than 2,000 people attended the show last weekend, which was billed as helping the general public invest in digital currencies and “reap great rewards”.



Bitcoin made simple

Me.Mento’s RedBUX is one of dozens of new cryptocoins and tokens being pitched to investors at the trade fair, which organisers described as “the UK’s biggest crypto and blockchain event for investors”.

Two booths down is a stand for Kidcoin, a currency designed for parents to pay their children for completing chores or simply staying out of trouble.

Arman Rousta, Kidcoin’s founder and chief executive, said the company’s coins can only be spent at vetted vendors, so parents can be assured their children would not be able to buy anything inappropriate.

Although conceding that it might be easier for parents to give their children a traditional allowance, Rousta said a growing number of children and parents do not use cash.

“This is much more intuitive than cash and it is easier to set long-term goals with Kidcoin,” he said. “We are kind of gamifying kids’ allowances to make it more like video games. There are targets to hit, with rewards unlocked. We are trying to help build kids’ confidence and self sufficiency.”

Patrick Dooley, the founder and chief executive of the trade fair, said he had sold more than 2,500 tickets. Hundreds of those who bought tickets, with wares including cryptocurrency investments for sports cars and retirement complexes, queued for up to an hour to enter the conference centre.


Crypto Investor Show
(@show_crypto)

Bare with us Guys we will get you all in ? #CIS18 pic.twitter.com/e1m1K2ae06

March 10, 2018

Dooley stood on balustrades to apologise to frustrated visitors, who had travelled from as far afield as Glasgow and Cornwall to learn about investing in bitcoin and its peers, such as ethereum, ripple and litecoin. The value of bitcoin has fluctuated wildly in recent months, rising to nearly $20,000 (£14,350) at the end of last year to its current level of about $8,000.

This week, Google said it would ban all adverts for cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin and ICOs, dealing a blow to investor sentiment for an asset with a value that often swings on interventions by governments and regulators around the world. The head of International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, also warned that cryptocurrencies could become a “major new vehicle for money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.

Dooley is well aware of the power of states and watchdogs over cryptocurrencies. “We wanted to be right in the centre of London opposite the Houses of Parliament, given that governance and regulation is such a big talking point in the sector,” he said of his choice of venue.

Dooley said talk of cryptocurrency regulation should ease investors’ nerves.

“We wanted to open up the space [cryptocurrencies] to the everyday investor because they should really know about it,” he said.

Bitcoin

Mohammed Shukeel, 39, an engineering student from Birmingham and fledgling crypto-investor, said he had travelled to London for the conference to make face-to-face contact with other investors. “I started investing last year, with a bit of bitcoin, some ethereum and a bit of ripple,” he said. “I’d rather not say how much money I’ve made, but it has been quite a lot.”

Slightly behind Shukeel in the 500-person queue stood Bernardo Pro, 21, from Mexico, studying at Kings’s College London. “I’m here out of curiosity,” he said. “You hear so many people talking about bitcoin and the other ones and how much money they have made. I just thought I’d check it out.

“I did open a bitcoin account about six years ago, but I got bored and sold them. They’d probably have been worth loads if I’d held on to them.”

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